MATA winter service proposal includes route suspensions, increased wait times

Published: Oct. 16, 2023 at 7:21 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Major changes to your bus routes are being discussed at Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA). Officials have released newly proposed plans that would begin in December, including several route suspensions, changes to route hours, and longer wait times between buses.

MATA leaders say this plan provides leaner routes and mitigates increasing transportation costs, limited operational dollars and some rider concerns about slow and missing buses, but many riders who appeared at a public meeting on Monday disagreed.

One big change on the table is most routes, including MATA Plus, end at 7 p.m.

Many concerned riders question what this means for those who get off of work later than that. They are also concerned that the changes will make things worse than they already are.

MATA officials cited low ridership as the reason for this proposed change.

Chief Development Officer John Lancaster says 95% of MATA’s riders will not be affected.

As for the other 5%...

“A lot of people will be impacted by the reduction in frequency, but as to where we are eliminating services, it actually affects a very small number of ridership,” said Lancaster.

Some bus routes are also at risk of being suspended, including Airport, Southeast Circulator, Walnut Grove and Perkins routes.

Also, many of the wait times between buses could also increase from 30 to 60 minutes. In some cases, almost two hours.

“We have definitely heard from the community about having to wait hours and hours on end for a bus. So, with us doing this, it allows us to meet the need,” said Chundra Smith, MATA’s Community Engagement Manager.

Riders say they are fed up with the existing frustrations. Several riders were late to MATA’s meeting because they said their bus was late.

“These buses are two and three hours late and half of them don’t show,” said one rider. “I mean, people losing their jobs right and left, and with these upcoming changes it’s going to be more of them out of work.”

MATA officials say the proposed changes are based on the systems’ low ridership routes and shortage of mechanics.

“Get it right for the elderly people, the homeless people, the folks that’s out here scuffling and folks working at night. You look at the folks at FedEx... what are they going to do? They are not going to get where they are able to go,” said South Memphis resident Darren Wilson.

“I would like for MATA to spend their money and spend it correctly so we won’t have so many schedule changes twice to three times a year,” said Memphis resident Cynthia Bailey.

The proposed changes go before the MATA board on October 24. If approved these changes will go into effect on December 3.

If you couldn’t attend Monday’s meeting but would like to offer feedback to MATA, email comments to with the subject line “2023 Winter Service.”

Written comments will be received up to 10 p.m. on October 23.

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